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Cool Videos: Will Smith stars as Neo in fan-made trailer for The Matrix

04.10.2017

Keanu Reeves was far from the Wachowskis' first choice to play Neo in THE MATRIX, in fact, the role almost went to Will Smith. However, Smith's skepticism about their ability to successfully pull off the ambitious bullet-time effects led to him turning down THE MATRIX and choosing to do WILD WILD WEST instead. Not exactly the best choice he could have made, but his career didn't exactly suffer. The film likely would have been quite different without Keanu Reeves, and The Unusual Suspect has spliced together a neat "what-if" trailer which imagines THE MATRIX with Will Smith in the lead

Will Smith explains further in a 2007 interview with Empire:

Honestly, I didn't think they could do it, it was too ambitious. I saw Bound and I loved it. The Matrix is exactly what they pitched, but they were designing those cameras to get those freeze-frames, and I was like, "If that doesn't work, the movie looks ridiculous." I didn't feel comfortable with the level of importance placed on that effect working properly. ... That's probably the only one that I turned down that I shouldn't have, but when you see somebody do it like Keanu you think, "Thank God." I don't think I was mature enough as an actor at that point to get out of the way and just let it be and allow the directors to make the movie. I would have been trying to make jokes. Now I would have loved to take a shot and see what I would have done with it and I know now I could absolutely have been mature enough to get out the way. But back then I don't think I was.

Would THE MATRIX have worked with Will Smith as Neo?

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